Have you heard? Retail is dying. People still shop but not in retail stores like we once did. I’ve been reading and hearing lately that the way we shop is changing. Malls around the country are standing empty just like downtowns did when the malls were built. Even the big box stores are closing being forced out like they once forced out many mom and pop businesses. Here’s a report about it.
If you haven’t ordered something from Amazon you are in the majority. Many people have Amazon Prime. We pay monthly for the privilege of getting free shipping as well as digital movies, books and music literally at our fingertips. Online shopping is replacing store fronts.
There are many advantages and some disadvantages to online shopping. Many times you have a huge selection and you can comparison price. You can search for exactly the item you want from the comfort of your home. Recently I was shopping for drawer pulls for a dresser I was painting. I went to several stores including a big craft store that I prefer not shopping because of their support of organizations that I do not support. But when I’m desperate I go there. They had the pulls I liked but they were $5 each. Often this retail craft store will have the pulls at half price. But not that day. $40 was too much for me to use on a dresser to resale. While waiting my hubby to foo oath shopping in a sports store I searched online using my phone and found 10 beautiful pulls for $15 from Amazon and they arrived 2 days later. That’s what is killing retail. Online you have multiple selections, fast delivery, easy payment and you can buy from home, your car, vacation or anywhere you have cell service any time.
Of course there are disadvantages with online shopping. If you like to actually touch and feel the article you are buying you are not going to do that online. This is especially true if you are buying clothing. And if have trouble finding the right fit in clothing, online clothing shopping will be difficult for you. I recently decided to try Switch Fix and luckily everything fit perfectly. Switch Fix is an group that will choose an outfit for you based on a survey of your likes, activities and preferences. Again ending the need to go from retail store to retail store putting an outfit together. Here is my first Switch Fix and thanks to losing 100 lbs over the last year and a half everything fit.
Another disadvantage is the delay in arriving. With Amazon Prime most packages arrive in 2 days. Anything shipped USPS Priority Mail will usually arrive in days. Shipping costs is also an added disadvantage when you not using a service like Amazon Prime.
Damage in shipping is another disadvantage. I’ve had good luck with shopping for the most part. A set of foam tiles in a plastic box was delivered from Amazon but the box was cracked. After contacting Amazon I was given three choices of which I chose a 30% refund which I thought was very fair. I was delighted to receive an email that since I was such a “good” customer they were refunding all the expense and my grand daughter’s teacher ended up with a free box of foam tiles. Let's not discuss how "good" a customer I am.
For elderly folks or those that do use computers the demise of retail shopping makes it harder and harder for them to find the things they need and want. I order things for my 91 year old mom all the time. Most recently a carpet sweeper. But many people in this situation don’t have someone to order things for them.
What does this mean for small business owners like me? It means I should be prepared for change. Boutiques and specialized stores are still surviving. Many in those small downtowns that were displaced years ago by big malls. With the addition of great restaurants, craft beer businesses and other unique stores places like the antique store where I have two booths are surviving. There is a trend to buy handmade and artisan products. And thanks to Joanna Gaines, from HGTV’s Fixer Upper, antiques and vintage items are all the rage now.
But a business like my antique and collectible business cannot rely solely on a storefront for all their income. We have to have addition revenue sources. I sell on eBay, I have an Etsy shop (GoodsonVintage) , I sell on Facebook Marketplace and occasionally to friends and family as well as the store where my booths are located. Many vendors like us sell at Vintage Market Days which are much like the craft shows of years past. Some even have their own "Barn Sells".
So we live in a rapidly changing world. Being prepared for changes will enable to deal with these changes in a smooth and seamless way.
Remember to buy what you love.